On July 31, 1971 at the close of our wedding ceremony, the Justice of the Peace in Scottsdale, AZ who also married Sonny and Cher at his home, hugged us good-bye and quoted Proverbs 28:20 “A faithful man shall abound with many blessings.”
Later that evening when off on our own and away from our few close family members and friends, Pat and I wanted to pray for our new life beginning together. We began by kneeling by the side of the bed, “Lord, we need your help to raise a new generation trusting in your powerful love. We both come from what society is calling a dysfunctional family. Continuing, Pat said, and we know you are the one who knows us best; all knowing, all powerful and said to be everywhere. We believe maybe we are just malfunctioning. We know we need you because you are the one who made us.
Can you check and see what it is we need to function with a sacred unction? Is it possible for us to ask that you include more than just some adjustments with our perception, reception, and sound? We would really like to be comfortable and at peace to enjoy our new journey together. In this world if our Magnavox TV is not working properly and we try to take it to the Sony dealer he will tell us, “Sir, I am an unauthorized dealer to fix this for you.” To get the benefits of our Magnavox lifetime guarantee you must take it back to the original manufacturer. So Pat closed our prayer with, “You are faithful God, merciful, and our manufacturer that we believe gave us a lifetime guarantee. After chuckling together he said, “Yes Lord, and diagnostic read outs on a need to know basis please, In Jesus Name, Amen!”
Pat and I were married 29 years before his unexpected death. The heart attack he experienced took his life in only minutes. It had been thirty two years after that prayer, when I was walking around my apartment complex to remind God, I had not forgotten He was still my creator and I needed another diagnostic read out to help with this new kind of sorrow.
I still believed it was too early for Pat to die, 51 years old is still to young. Knowing it’s not about the why but will we continue to love, which is who we are. I was widowed at forty-seven November 2, 2000 and was now pondering that I was single again. Death, I could see is never an entry on anyone’s day timer. Looking at widowhood and feeling the loss but knowing I was still one with God and with the one I shared and learned so much. Pat might have been out of sight but certainly not out of my heart.
Experiencing so many different kinds of “defining moments” like getting pregnant at 16 and having a son on my 17th birthday which I had to give up for adoption. I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor, of course, rich is better you just have more options. Money is not what brings peace of mind or heart; it’s what are you doing to trust in the manufacture who created you in love without fear.
I have learned to lean in and be still to hear God’s voice and feel Love’s nudge and became efficient at asking for another read out after most of the moments that needed His daily light and love. I really do like order but somehow my life and my heart felt turned inside out and upside down, just hanging out all over.
God does care about every little detail. If it matters to you, it matters to Him and that is how trust and faith begins. There is nothing too big or too small to ask for help and receive provision for it all. A sign right now in the living room might help these feelings of being overwhelmed. You know like when a restaurant or store renovates and remodels. Their sign usually says something like, “this mess is for your future enjoyment, pardon our dirt.”
I made a similar sign that said, “please pardon this mess, the old must be undone to make room for the next level of expression.”
Our family motto is, “Love not expressed is love not received; you can say you love me, but without a visible expression I will not know it.” Our little family was into making memories that would be able to hold our hearts for a lifetime. We just didn’t think it would be required of us this soon. This reminds me of so many visible signs of God’s love we faithfully find all over our days and nights as we journey through life. Trail markers for us to see the goodness of God and His unconditional love placed on purpose for us to find.
We wanted to be a visible expression of an invisible truth. We set out to make a difference by being a sign post of love to those around us. We learned early that joy is experienced when we give thanks. We would have our hands working together growing organic vegetables in our garden; along with fruit and nut trees, rabbits, chickens and even a turkey. Ministering to those who were looking to find the rest and peace promised in the Gospel.
Sometimes with the heat in Arizona it took more water that made the value extremely costly but it was just another way that kept us close as a family. We knew if we wanted corn we needed to plant corn seeds. Don’t be expecting to get corn and then complain when you forgot to plant corn. We learned if we plant the seed of a grateful heart we would harvest more things to be thankful for.
What are you expecting to find each day you wake up and get out of bed? We believed our lives are like a parade and each one of us is a float, or like a billboard. What are you conveying to those around you?
We wanted to be known for making loving memories. Zig Ziglar said, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.”
One morning I began my walk at my new apartment complex that has a special perk. They pick up our trash curb-side Monday, Wednesday, and Friday’s. Each morning when I walked I was able to SEE the trash laying out for pick-up. Some things were not even in bags as the complex requires. Some bags the birds were picking at, and the smell of some well you can imagine. I began to appreciate this benefit and the one WHO picks it up for us and takes it to the dumpster to save us time. I had wondered if anyone ever said, “THANK YOU?”
I had this PUSH in me to bring my permanent Sharpie marker to write THANK YOU with smiley faces on the boxes and bags left out for trash. I walked for two more weeks without doing that, because I thought how silly if the neighbors saw me writing on the trash. Well, one Friday I started my walk and got about 1/2 block away and saw some trash that really I wouldn’t even pick up, if that was my job. That was really raising a question in my mind and the faithfulness it showed by this young man being dedicated to his job. I went back home to get the marker and said, “How silly for me to worry if someone should ask; my reply will be, “I am only writing THANK YOU on their trash.”
Well, I giggled, had fun, and was so blessed to thank someone. I then realized how committed and doing the job that so many of us forgot could be offensive and reek, making it even harder for Francisco. I went home after writing on all the trash bags and boxes left outside that day and wrote Thank YOU for keeping us cleaned up all week on my own card, then taped it and $5.00 to my bags.
I wish I was bird that day to SEE his face and wondered did he notice (of course, how could anyone miss hundreds of Smiley Faces and the words Thank You on all the trash) and what did Francisco think?
I knew in my heart that GOD noticed and I realized anew God is never afraid of the trash we put in His hands each day. Our sorrow, mistakes, or the smell of the attitudes we can speak in hurt or pain; you know that oops there I go again. We would always remember to make more deposits into each other so that we would have enough to make a withdrawal on days like that. Being faithful to think of ways to express our love for each other and our girls has provided fun and spontaneity. We are learning to trust that Life is FOR US.
Finding the trail makers that give us hope and reminders of who we are and how will we express love without fear. Oh, and our manufacturer would give us plenty of DDRO’s (daily diagnostic read outs) just for asking. Every day faithfully shining His love and light clearing the way again, to have a grateful heart after removing the trash we put out for HIM.
Joanne M. Patek © May 25, 2014